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By Kim Roberts

Hundreds of tiny fry
crowd the single tank,
churning the water milky.
The fry grow to parr
with wobbly, thick black stripes

as if drawn in a child’s hand.
The parr grow to smolts,
released into ponds.
As they smoltify,
they turn silver, grow scales.

Their ponds go saline
and they grow, they fatten.
They bulk up, fish up,
they chinook, they chum,
they coho, they sockeye.

They don’t run, or redd,
or spawn, or kelt.
No ocean, no river,
no homing. No anadromy.
They don’t properly pink

so far from habitat.
So they’re fed a food
made from themselves;
they are cannibalized
for color: soylent salmon.

And they are fed twice
as many pounds as they grow—
a crazy economy.
Still they are created
in the thousands, packed

into writhing tanks like shooting fish
in a barrel
. Three years
from artificial insemination
to the flap of a caudal fin,
to the bagel on my plate.

Added: Thursday, July 13, 2017  /  From "The Scientific Method," (WordTech Editions, 2017). Used with permission.
Kim Roberts
Photo by Jon Gann.

Kim Roberts is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), and five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). She co-edits the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the web exhibit DC Writers’ Homes. Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, HumanitiesDC, and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has been a writer-in-residence at 18 artist colonies. Poems of hers have been featured in the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas Project, on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day Project, and on podcasts sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at Kim's website

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